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Contents

Used to Express Equivalence or Duality 

Chapter:
Punctuation
Author(s):

Cheryl Iverson

Used to Express Equivalence or Duality

When 2 terms are of equal weight in an expression and and is implied between them to express this equivalence, the forward slash can be retained.

The diagnosis and initial treatment/diagnostic planning were recorded.

If the approval process raises concerns among the researchers or the ethics committee/IRB members, the author may want to explain the resolution of these issues.

When the question of duality arises in the he/she construction, change the slash construction when the gender is to be specified; substitute the word or for the forward slash or, preferably, rephrase to be gender neutral.

Dr Kate Wolf and Dr Rob Cox agreed to serve on the nomenclature committee. Now I need to know whether he or she [not he/she] will lead the subcommittee on genetic nomenclature.

Better:

Now I need to know which of them will lead the subcommittee.

If the sex is unspecified and does not matter, retain the slash construction.

This aspiration technique is one that any physician can master whether or not he/she has surgical expertise.

Note: The trend today is toward rephrasing such sentences and using the plural to avoid sexist language; eg, “This aspiration technique can be mastered by physicians whether or not they have surgical expertise.” (See 11.10, Correct and Preferred Usage, Inclusive Language.)

Although the forward slash can be used to indicate alternative or combined states in the same person, such as Jekyll/Hyde personality, it is important that no ambiguity be introduced. If there is any likelihood of ambiguity, the sentence should be reworded.

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